BBC 6 minute English-The wonders of hair

BBC 6 minute English-The wonders of hair

BBC 6 minute English-The wonders of hair


Transcript of the podcast

Note: This is not a word-for-word transcript

Neil: Welcome to 6 Minute English, where today we introduce a hair-raising topic and six items of vocabulary

Tim: I’m Tim… So what’s hair-raising about today’s topic, Neil? Hair-raising means scary but also exciting

Neil: We’re talking about hair – which may be exciting for some, but definitely won’t be scary

Tim: Hair-raising is a real thing, though, isn’t it? Our hairs do rise

Neil: Yes – Tim, they do. We get goose bumps when we’re cold, scared, or excited

Tim: But other mammals do it better than us – Cats fluff up when they see other cats they don’t like

Neil: That’s true – We can’t fluff up because we don’t have enough body hair

Tim: I suppose we used to be as hairy as gorillas – if you go back a million years or so

Neil: Do you know why we lost so much hair, Tim

Tim: Isn’t it because it allowed us to sweat more easily? This meant we didn’t get so hot and tired – we could run faster and for longer – and catch more animals to eat

Neil: That sounds like a good theory. But do you have a theory on how many hair follicles the human body has today

Tim: What’s a hair follicle

Neil: A hair follicle is the organ that produces a hair underneath the skin. Now answer the question, Tim. How many hair follicles does the human body have today? Is it

a) 500,000

b) 5 million or

c) 50 million

Tim: 50 million sounds about right

Neil: Did you know that men have more than women, Tim

Tim: No, I didn’t – but it makes sense since men are usually hairier than women

Neil: On their faces – but not necessarily on their heads

Tim: Are you referring to the fact that men of a certain age can be follically challenged

Neil: If you’re follically challenged it means you’re losing your hair! Having little or no hair is called baldness. And if you’ve reached a certain age it means you aren’t young any more

Tim: Why is our hair so important to us, Neil? When we aren’t worrying about going bald, we’re busy shaving, waxing, plucking, and trimming the stuff. When I say ‘we’ of course I’m referring to people in general. Not myself

Neil: Well, a good head of hair indicates health and youth. And hair on your face – facial hair – shows when boys have reached manhood

Tim: On the other hand, going grey or losing your hair shows you’re getting older

Neil: Hair today, gone tomorrow

Tim: Bad joke, Neil

Neil: Sorry! It’s true that hair on your head shows signs of aging – but this isn’t true of all human hair. Let’s listen to Ralf Paus, a leading hair loss researcher, talking about this

INSERT Ralf Paus, hair loss researcher

The eyebrows get stronger usually in aging men, the hairs in your nose and in your ears get stronger – and what a miracle of nature that an organ – when the entire body is aging actually grows stronger. So we may even be able to learn from hair follicles how not to age

Tim: Hmm. I’m not sure I would swap a good head of hair for thick eyebrows and nose hair. How about you, Neil

Neil: I agree! But let’s hear more from Ralf Paus about why some hair gets stronger as you get older

INSERT Ralf Paus, hair loss researcher

The hair follicle apparently knows some tricks that the other organs don’t know. So it’s continuously regenerating itself. It goes through a so-called hair cycle and part of that we know pretty well – and that is, these stem cells that it uses to regenerate cells

Tim: So a hair follicle can regenerate cells – or grow new cells to replace old or damaged ones. But if that’s only true for eyebrows, nose and ear hair, I am not that impressed! I want hairs on my head to be able to regenerate

Neil: The important thing here is that these cells in the hair follicle may help scientists discover a way to stop other organs of the body aging… OK, I’m now going to reveal how many hair follicles on average we have on our bodies. The answer is… ۵ million

Tim: Oh. So not 50 million then

Neil: Don’t worry, Tim! It was a tricky question! Now let’s go over the words we learned today

Tim: ‘Hair-raising’ means scary often in an exciting way. For example, That ride on the rollercoaster was a hair-raising experience

Neil: Next is ‘hair follicle’ – the organ that produces a hair underneath the skin

Tim: Scientists believe that stress can affect hair follicles

Neil: A number of things can affect hair follicles actually – age, disease, diet

Tim: OK – but we haven’t got all day, Neil. So let’s move on to the next item. ‘Baldness’ – which means having little or no hair on your head

Neil: My grandfather is bald and he always wears a hat to cover his baldness

Tim: Nice example. Is your grandpa actually bald, Neil

Neil: No – he has a fine head of hair. Now, if you are a certain age, it means you are no longer young. For example

Tim: All the people at the party were of a certain age

Neil: How many of them had facial hair, Tim? That’s our next word, and ‘facial’ means to do with the face

Tim: “None of the people at the party had facial hair.” There’s your answer

Neil: That’s unusual, Tim. Lots of men have beards these days. OK – our final word for today is ‘regenerate’ which means to grow again. You can talk about regenerating a range of things, for example

Neil: The council has plans to regenerate this part of the city

Tim: “Regeneration of parts of the city is in progress.” – ‘regeneration’ is the noun

Neil: Well, it’s time to go now. But if today’s show gave you goosebumps please let us know by visiting our Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages and telling us about it

Tim: Bye-bye

Neil: Goodbye

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